Congratulations to Paul Wallace for winning the Bass Fishing Archives Trivia Contest with his correct answer! Read on for the answer.
A 20th place finish in the 1995 Georgia Invitational on Lake Lanier marked the top B.A.S.S. performance for Japanese angler Masaki Shimono. In a tournament where just over 10 pounds a day was good enough for 2nd and less than 6 pounds a day earned you a check, he notched exactly 21 pounds.
Shimono earned a check in his first B.A.S.S. tournament, 1991’s Megabucks event on Lake Chickamauga (which was of course won by Larry Nixon), then earned three more over his subsequent 22 tournaments. He fished his last tournament on the circuit on Lake Hartwell in 1996 with career earnings of $8,442.
His time with FLW, where his career spanned the 2002-2005 time period, was slightly more lucrative due largely to the circuit’s deeper payout. In 26 events on the FLW Tour and the EverStart Central Series, plus the 2002 Ranger M1 Millenium, he earned $38,490. Again, though, he had trouble breaking into the upper echelons on the score sheet. His best finish was a 36th in the 2002 FLW Tour tournament on Lake Ouachita.
While Shimono may have left B.A.S.S. after 1996, his influence continued to reverberate there into the next decade.
Here’s the answer
Fellow Japanese native Takahiro Omori won the 2004 Bassmaster Classic on South Carolina’s Lake Wylie with a memorable last second squarebill catch. He started his US fishing career in 1992, fishing B.A.S.S. Invitationals without a boat. It was the era of pro-on-pro draws, so his default position was that they’d take his partner’s boat. That’s a tough pill to swallow for any competitor, so when he went back to Japan he approached Popeye’s, a Ranger dealer, to try to arrange a boat for himself. They were already working with Shimono. Together, though, they came up with a new plan – Omori would scout the lakes for Shimono, towing the senior angler’s Ranger with a Suburban, and sleeping in it at campgrounds across the country.
“The Suburban had over 200,000 miles on it and it would break down,” he later told FLW. “I did not know what was wrong with it, how to fix it, or how to pay to have it fixed. Sometimes I was stranded five or six days in a place because the Suburban would not work.”
As the New York times reported in 2010, “Omori would try to dodge security guards or the local police in hotel or shopping center lots….Often he did not have enough money to cover the fee to stay at a campground.”
He still didn’t have use of a boat during the tournaments, either, but while Shimono went back to Japan in between events, Omori stayed stateside and improved his angling skills. A few years later, Shimono elected to fish only the Eastern Invitationals, so Omori had use of the boat during the Centrals. He took full advantage, winning a 1996 event on Lake of the Ozarks. Oddly enough, though, he qualified for the tour through the Easterns, out of others’ boats.
Eight years later, he was the Bassmaster Classic Champion.